I thought I knew what I let myself in for when I entered the cinema and took my seat. I was told that Lion left a lasting impression on the audiences that have seen it before me. I was ready for it. I was ready to experience the age old cliché of reuniting a family. But I was not.
Lion. A confusing title for a film about a five year old boy called Saroo (Sunny Pawar) who lost his way while demanding to assist his brother, Guddu (Abhishek Bharate), in providing for their family. Although ill-starred, the two embarked on what would have been a week-long commitment when Saroo is separated from Guddu. After tirelessly searching for Guddu, Saroo falls asleep on a stationary train and ends up 1500 km from home. Saroo is eventually adopted by an Australian couple and raised by love and compassion. Skip ahead 20 years and he once again feels the lack of belonging when discussing his childhood with friends, initiating the search for his family. The only problem is, he only knows the name of his hometown, which according to everyone who tried to help him does not exist, and the name of his brother. When asked what his mother’s name is, he could simply reply “maan”, the Hindi word for “mother”.
Where do you start if you want to evaluate a film so powerful and true that you do not care about possible errors or discontinuation? A film so blatantly honest that you have no choice but to invest your being in what you are experiencing. Although I would rather have Sunny Pawar be nominated for an Academy Award, Dev Patel (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Newsroom) delivers a stellar performance with the same honesty as when he played Jamal in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. There are no words to describe the emotion conveyed in this film, no notions of elucidation that can effectively persuade someone to watch this film which so elegantly elevates and accentuates the powerful love of family. The film is more than a masterpiece. The film changes how you view the world when you leave that cinema. Suddenly, you’ll realise how fortunate you are, even if you think you might be the most infelicitous person, this film will remind you of your blessings.
I am not a crier. I rolled my eyes in My Sister’s Keeper and glanced at my watch repetitively during The Fault in Our Stars, but the seductively empathetic film that is Lion had me in tears. And by that, I do not mean that not only did a tear roll down my cheek because of my admiration for the beauty of the production, but also because of the deep realisation that we have a responsibility towards each other. If that means you need to travel halfway around our planet to make a difference and spend every last cent you have to do so, do it; because you might just prevent a story so sad that I had to compose myself before leaving my seat from happening.
If only we cared more for one another.
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